To qualify as “literate” to a person who knows how to read and write, can only be one of the worst mistakes that condemn us to have an educational system increasingly deficient. Literacy has to do with the ability we have to interpret our environment and develop effectively in it. The Educational Reform was born in the democracy, in the year 1994. From there on, we have entered a tunnel of obscurantism and stagnation that flagellates and will continue to do so to Paraguayan students.
In 1994 there was not even Windows 95, Netscape Navigator, the first domestic tool for internet browsing, there was no Google, Apple had not created the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, there was no Android or smartphones, which today they have an almost 100% penetration in our country. Not to mention Facebook, Whatsapp, wifi, GPS navigation. The Dolly sheep had not yet been cloned, not even 1% of the study of the sequence of the human genome had not been completed, 3D functional organs could not be printed and a huge list of advances that have changed our perception of the world in the last 20 years.
How to educate from a vision and pedagogical structure that has been used for the past 24 years, being that in the last 10 years there have been more inventions, discoveries and innovations than in the whole last century? We cannot be irresponsible and generate a list of what have been the decisions or actions that have kept our educational system in this infertility state, but we can socialize premises that can help us rethink some things:
Human perception is linear, our brains are programmed to have linear expectations, since it has always been that way. In contrast, technological progress is exponential. Even large companies have gone bankrupt for not understanding this current of growth of technologies. One of the pioneering companies in mobile telephony estimated that by the year 2000 there would be a million cell phones, when in that year actually had exceeded one hundred million cell phones. In our country, the penetration of smart phones has been one of the fastest in the region. There are more smartphones than people in our country. Universal knowledge is democratized. What does this mean? It is no longer necessary to simply memorize the capitals of the countries. Today, from a cell phone you can make a virtual tour of the same, visit museums, monuments and other emblematic places. Why continue to promote an education that is by heart, if all the universal knowledge is in our hands, a question away?
The ability to retain information “by heart” in our brains is increasingly becoming unnecessary and less useful in the labor market or in what we know as the knowledge economy. The social, business and political leaders of our time do not stand out for being people who can recite poetry by heart, but for how they are able to take information available and generate content with it. That is to say, memorization without developing the creative capacity or creating critical thinking is totally obsolete. Educating by appealing to memory is a condemnation for the student.
How to continue educating in an analogical way in a world that is consumed by the digital? The national reality is not unknown, much less the rural environments and the deficiencies that the institutions have. But the Fourth Industrial Revolution proposed by Klaus Schwab actually raises that technology comes first to these places, because in the end it is more effective and even cheaper. What is cheap? For less than 20 textbooks of a single subject, students can have a small projector that connects to one of their telephones, or to the teacher’s and thus, have access to hundreds of thousands of updated subjects, presented in a dynamic and fun way, with teachers from all over the world. Utopia? No, it is happening, even in countries with fewer resources than ours. The only barrier that must be broken down is that of the mental paradigms of “that is a first world thing”, “here it cannot be done”, “it is of no use if in the end they are not going to university” and other atrocities that we hear daily. Yes, it can and must be done, so that future generations are not condemned to an obsolete education and boredom in the classroom.
By Bruno Vaccotti
Entrepreneurial Education Manager, Fundación Paraguaya